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February, I barely knew ya. Another birthday gone (it was a nice one!), so many great movies (Hidden Figures and Moonlight!), lots of hot chocolate, and a few warm days where I shed the big jacket and the hat and was reminded just how much I love spring. I’M READY! (But also kind of not because I like how winter is all about snuggling and reading books on the couch, or in bed… I suppose that won’t change too much with a change in season but still! A blanket and a book make for a lovely pair.)

Speaking of books, here are three books I read this month that I hope you’ll add to your shopping or library list:

If I Fix You by Abigail Johnson / Goodreads | B&N | Amazon / This book unexpectedly popped up in an issue of Clover Letter that was left unread in my email box for an embarrassingly long time. For the record, I will champion Clover Letter — a newsletter full of news and strong females — until a pig flies over the moon but I usually collect a bunch and read them in bulk. Jill, the main character of this book, is a mechanic in her dad’s shop and finds herself in the middle of a rock and a hard place. Her relationship with her old friend/former crush is tense because of an unfortunate incident but she can’t seem to stop feeling something for him as much as she tries. But her friendship with the mysterious guy next door, a guy who is in a pickle himself, finds herself trusting a guy with secrets she hasn’t told anyone. So we kind of have ourselves stuck in a triangle, and I didn’t mind it. Jill’s chemistry with both of them is pretty great, and you don’t lose this character’s challenges in dealing with an absent mom and a dad who is unwilling to deal with the reality of their family. Promising debut by a new writer. Con: only white characters. | Young adult book from Harlequin Teen; October 25th, 2016.

100 Days of Cake by Shari Goldhagan / Goodreads | B&N | Amazon / I was a big fan of Shari Goldhagan’s IN SOME OTHER WORLD, MAYBE and I totally forgot that she came out with a YA book until Miss Print reminded me. Molly has a part-time job at pet shop, a possible thing with the guy who works with her, and a mom who plans to bake a different cake for 100 days in a row to encourage time together and possibly cure Molly’s sads. Only Molly’s sads is actually depression. I’m a natural fixer and while the gimmick of 100 cakes (each chapter is named after one) wasn’t executed especially well, I did think this was an important and well-done look into depression. I have a few friends who very much want to progress forward but are stunted because of their depression, and I thought Goldhagan did a great job of explaining that type of feeling in the book — especially as we see what Molly has given up in extracurriculars and in her relationships because of everything she’s going through. I loved that she cared about her PT job so much; it reminded me of how much I enjoyed my after-school jobs in high school. 100 Days of Cake is definitely full of surprises and despite a few shortcomings, I really really liked the main character and read this whole book pretty quickly. | Young adult book from Atheneum Books for Young Readers; May 17, 2016.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne / Goodreads | B&N | Amazon / Why even go into detail?! Magan and I read this book at the same time and were so inspired, we recorded our conversation about it. (There are minimal spoilers, and I suggest you listen to the recording and not watch it because I touch my bangs a lot and it’s annoying. I’m working on that!) Lucy and Joshua are executive assistants to the CEOs at their merged publishing company, and from Lucy’s very first day, she’s felt at odds with Josh. They play little games with each other; they are most definitely not friends. Told from Lucy’s POV, readers finds she’s a bit of a workaholic with an undecorated apartment and dreams of doing MORE in her company. Her world is turned completely on its head when she orchestrates a date for herself with another guy at her company and then finds herself in the company of Josh. IT GETS SO GOOD. THAT IS ALL I WILL SAY. Just read it. This book is so much fun, an attention grabber, with two great backstories. I wish all romances functioned this way. | Contemporary fiction from William Morrow; August 9, 2016.

Here’s to a new month of new books, warmer weather, and better time management? (A story for another day.)

Magan and I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment here or say hi on Twitter @readinggals or Instagram @readinggals too!

Tell us what you think! We love blog comments and hearing from you!

Hot cocoa + s’more books in February on Rather Be Reading

Check out more book reviews and posts by Estelle.

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Oh, hey there!

Hello March, springtime, sunshine, and all of the best make-your-heart-happy books as you sunbathe. (Ideally, right?)

We hung out for a little while ‘in person’ to chat about THE HATING GAME by Sally Thorne – a book that should be high on your radar for reading as soon as possible. We discussed the love/hate relationship between Lucy and Josh, crazy work dynamics and ending up in a job you never intended to have, and naturally digressed into some girl chat about makeup and life.

We filmed this on a lazy Sunday afternoon and got cozy in our own homes with our computers – Estelle in her apartment in NY and Magan from the comfort of her living room! We lost track of time, rambled a lot at the end about some of our favorite things, but had so much fun getting in some friend time.

We hope that you’ll enjoy our first in-person book chat!

The Hating Game Chat - YouTube

The Scoop: Off-Topic Details: Catch-Up:
  • Have you read THE HATING GAME? What did you think?
  • What are your favorite podcasts? We’re looking for more recommendations!
  • We’ve both adopted a ‘read and release’ policy with our books to pass them along to other book-lovers. Are you a re-reader or do you pass your books off to a friend?
  • Has anyone started a lending library? Any tips or advice for how Magan can start one?

Tell us what you think! We love blog comments and hearing from you!

Happy March + A Book Chat on Rather Be Reading

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Well, hello there!

*stretches fingers and warms them up over the keyboard*

Oh, where to start? Really I’m not quite sure, but I have so many thoughts floating through my head. I’m here and it’s been a long while and I’m sorry about that. Let’s see if I can rewind to kind of explain what was going on in my life to catch you up.

In 2015 I found out I was expecting my second baby. That was such a thrill and a joy — for those of you who’ve been around awhile, you know that me getting pregnant isn’t easy so there were lots of doctors appointments and fertility and shots involved. It all gets a little bit overwhelming and maybe that’s where it started. So much pent up frustration that my body doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. For some time, though, I was slipping with my reading. I just couldn’t catch up or read as much as I wanted to, nor was I connecting to what I was reading.

I felt like I was reading a lot of lemons.

And maybe that’s a reflection of me? I got very caught up in the world of blogging and reviewing and I’m a people-pleaser to my core so when I accepted a book for review, I wanted to make sure I was going to follow through and get it done. If I reflect back on who I was as a reader when Rather be Reading first began, though, I was never a list reader. I never knew what was coming next. I chose by feeling and what I wanted to read at the time. Over the course of so many years that had changed and inevitably, so did my feelings about reading. It became a chore.

So with my pregnancy and being tired and having to take progesterone that just made me want to vomit, the disconnect between reading and me grew to the size of the Grand Canyon. I tried to read friends’ absolute favorite reads. I tried re-reading Harry Potter. I tried switching to adult books instead of YA. Nothing worked. I found myself not even wanting to talk to my best friend about books because I just felt lost in my reading life.

Everett with her newborn baby sister, Gentry

Life continued to happen. We stepped in when our former foster daughter’s family became homeless. I found myself in my third trimester of pregnancy taking care of our biological daughter, E, and two little girls through the Safe Families Program. We had a 3-year-old, 2-year-old, and 1-year-old in our house and exhaustion was etched into every crevice of my being. It’s not the mere fact that we were chasing three active children — this story runs much deeper and for their privacy as well as my own, I’ll just simply say that I’ve never shed more tears or felt like I’d been called to this great task to do something I felt so ill-prepared for. (And thank goodness we had an army of people around us who would literally let me cry out all my frustrations and offered so much help.)

We transitioned very quickly from being parents to three girls to back to only Everett with a few remaining weeks before our second baby was due. It felt like such a whirlwind experience and I really needed to soak up as much of my baby as I could because she handled our October to January transition very, very well, but I knew bringing a baby home from the hospital might not be easy on her, especially after all of that.

We tried taking photos in a field of bluebonnets. It wasn’t a very successful trip, but oh, I love this photo!

Gentry arrived at the end of January and … I don’t know how far to really go into all of this. I’m sure I’ll save some details for later, but have you ever lived through something and thought that things were going okay, only to look back and think, “Holy crap! That was so much harder than I realized!” That’s precisely how I feel about our last year. (Gentry just turned one a few weeks ago.) Motherhood is just hella hard. I don’t know if we’ll have any more biological babies, but breastfeeding and recovery and this feeling of losing myself a little bit to a human who so depends on my livelihood is really difficult. I’ve never thought, in the midst of things, that I suffered from post-partum depression, but with both of my babies, there’s been this moment of feeling like I’m coming up for a breath of fresh air after spending a really long time underwater, fighting for my life.

Working on raising some little readers!

Maybe there’s more going on than I’ve ever realized, but I’m finally at that refreshed and renewed part of my life. I feel like I’m taking care of myself and liking who I see in the mirror. I don’t feel like I’m floundering and that quite so much is out of control anymore. I’m happy with work (forgot to mention that I also started a new job last year as a children’s book consultant, but am still doing photography, too) and am working out, reading when I can, prioritizing family time, and just really, really happy.

I feel like I’m finally in this good place to come back here this little piece of the internet to embrace all of my bookish friends. I’m so sorry it’s been a while. I hope you’ve looked at our absence as a “See you later” instead of a “Goodbye.” I don’t think Estelle or I have it in us to completely cut off all writing, sharing, and reading, and I’m ever so thankful that despite the silence on the blog, I’ve had my friend to help me through lots of life chaos.

So…hello! Hi! How are you?

The Blasig Family (L to R): me, Gentry (1), Everett (3), and Dustyn

Tell us what you think! We love blog comments and hearing from you!

Random Ramblings and Motherhood on Rather Be Reading

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I’ve been trying to write about my relationship with books in 2016 for the past week. I’ve scrolled through my list of top 10 books of the year — a list that has steadily remained at seven reads for the past few months — and tried to add others but fell short. I looked through notes I scribbled down in Goodreads when I was particularly jazzed about a read, and grew upset with myself for not being more detailed.

The question is: how do you measure your reading life after recording your reading life pretty routinely for almost five years and then stopping cold turkey?

The answer is: I’m not entirely sure.

Here are a few things I could say: I read Jeff Zentner’s The Serpent King because my boss at one of my side hustles sent me a galley. It utterly changed my reading life, and I immediately ordered a copy to send to my sister. I loved it so much that I was too shy to go up to Jeff when he traveled to New York City for one of my favorite annual events of all time: NYC Teen Authors Festival (a festival I never would have started attending if it wasn’t for this blog). I went on a job interview for a job I would eventually get after a weekend of being snowed in and talked up Courtney Summer’s All the Rage and Julie Buxbaum’s Tell Me Three Things. Both so wonderful for such different reasons. Later that summer, during Independent Bookstore Day, I convinced one of my oldest friends to buy a copy. On a long bus ride to the beach, Some Kind of Happiness by Claire LeGrand kept me company. It’s the perfect middle grade mix — magic mixed with realism, love mixed with confusion, and family paired with self-discovery. This was another doggy earred galley I left on my sister’s bed during a visit home. I picked up The First Time She Drowned because Jeff Zentner plugged it, was instantly taken by the beauty and pain of the book, and passed it along to a friend a few months later when her mom passed. I knew it wouldn’t be an easy read for her, but I also knew she had a lot of the strength the main character possessed and this was the best way I could tell her. And then there was a recommendation from the dependable Emma and the discovery of a brand new author: Leah Konen. The warm summer afternoon I gobbled up One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid and immediately passed it to my close friend from college. (It was a year of passing it on.) And the incredible second book by Juliana Romano, The Summer in the Invisible City, that had my hand yearning to write, pick up my own story, and challenge myself to write just as well. (Impossible but still. I was inspired and continued to be. You’ll be shocked to know I bought my sister a copy of this for Christmas. Note to self: has she read any of these yet?)

This is the first year in five years where I bought less than 12 book for myself in a year. This does not mean I didn’t buy a lot of books for others because I did. (Like the incredible and addicting middle grade from Natasha Friend: Where You’ll Find Me.) I read so many books from my own library, from stacks that line my apartment walls, and donated over 75 of them in one fashion or another. (There is one happy reader in my apartment building.) I stopped — we stopped — writing here for so many reasons but one of mine was to simplify. I thought if I took a break from here, I would be able to concentrate on other projects. More private ones. And I did. And I didn’t. And I rediscovered what it means to love a book and share it with your friends who understand you and not rush and not feel any pressure. I took out over 75 books from my library this year, I paid probably 50 dollars in fines, but I know I shopped thoughtfully this year. I reminded myself countlessly that there are a million ways to support authors, even if you aren’t buying a book as soon as it comes out. Hey, I even introduced my cube neighbor to Jenny Han’s To All The Boys I Loved Before and delighted in our conversations about if she was Team Peter or Team Josh. It was organic, and so fun! (Another note: just because a platform pauses/closes, doesn’t mean a voice stops recommending and encouraging people to buy your books.)

2016 was not my best reading year. I put a lot of books down. I read 100 pages, and decided if I really didn’t want to pick a book up at night, what was it doing my nightstand? Like everything else that is a hobby, it’s okay to make those decisions. It’s okay to know your limits and want to FIND JOY. (I did finally read On the Island and I’m kicking myself because people have been singing its praises forever. Oh, and then Little Women — I tackled my goal of 26 years by actually finishing it.) My priorities may have shifted to personal projects and fitness and watching all seven season of Gilmore Girls, but I have missed this space. I know I’m lucky because I’ve been able to channel my love for this space and this community at work, and have a great time doing it. But I miss brainstorming and laughing with my friend over books; I miss having a project to gap our distance. For almost a year now, I’ve struggled with (and maybe this is what the age of digital is all about) who I am as a blogger and who I am as an actual publicist. (One of my proudest/scariest moments I had this year was speaking on a panel about blogging and my professional life at the wonderful BlogBound.) The support and incredible relationships I made because of this blog mean so much to me. I respect what you do because I’ve done it too. I know it’s a labor of love, and I know how much authors and the books we love need the genuine passion you express in whatever way you wish. This blog and all of the experiences connected to it have made me better at my job, it’s made me even more of a creative thinker, and it’s made me love the art of collaboration so much more than I ever have.

It’s a new year, and it feels right to be back here with Magan. We’re celebrating six years of friendship at the end of January, and I feel luckier than ever — to be surrounded by books, fierce and imaginative people, and the freedom to sit here and write this to you. I’m ready to learn more about others and myself too.

Here’s to 2017 — to reunions, rediscovery, and curiosity.

Tell us what you think! We love blog comments and hearing from you!

366 days of silence (and then I talk too much) on Rather Be Reading

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Happy new year! (Throws confetti!!)

In my casual relationship during the work week with Twitter, I saw a few people mention reading primarily women authors in the new year. It soon led me to this post on Book Riot. Deciding to do something like this wouldn’t be such a change in pace for me — I find myself reading women almost exclusively for no reason except well those tend to be the books I pick up. Proof: 136 out of 152 book I read last year were by ladies. Even so, I realized I wanted to be more aware of this choice when it came to my reading and unofficially officially challenge myself to read more ladies across the genres — especially after last year (ha, two days ago!) brought books like Happiness for Beginners, Girl in the Mirror, and Maybe in Another Life into my universe when I needed the extra oomph to be my own advocate!

To be helpful for others who may want to embark on this women’s only challenge, I thought I would lend a few suggestions from my treasure trove of favorites and then offer up a few titles that are on my priority list for 2016. As always, here’s hoping you discover something new and fabulous!

highly recommended

middle grade

Anastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry: An oldie, but goodie. Anastasia is a writer and a dreamer, and I love how this old school book shows how much middle grade writing has changed over the years.

Jessica Darling’s IT List series by Megan McCafferty: Family, friends, and popularity come into play in the prequel to the beloved (at least to me) Jessica Darling series.

Finding Someplace by Denise Lewis Patrick: A young girl is caught in the middle of Hurricane Katrina and deals with the effects while discovering the true meaning of home.

young adult

Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu: Corey Ann never speaks down to her readers and writes with honesty about beauty, sisters, and mysteries of love in this NYC summer story. (Runner up: Life By Committee.)

Vivian Apple series by Katie Coyle: It’s the end of the world as Vivian and Harp know it… in this smart series filled with fierce friendship, family challenges, and a crazy religion sweeping the country, Coyle writes an engaging and chilling 2-book series.

Pointe by Brandy Colbert: Theo’s oldest friend returns four years after he’s been kidnapped, and the effects of their estrangement, her future in dance, and past memories bombard her in heartbreaking, and difficult ways.

Kissing Ted Callahan Amy Spalding: One of the rare YA books that comes jam-packed with laughs as a main character navigates a messy love life, kisses a bunch of boys, and is semi-competing with her over the top best friend in finding a relationship. (Runner up: The Reece Malcolm Project.)

What You Left Behind by Jessi Verdi: A young dad (in his senior year of high school) left to piece together his deceased girlfriend’s secrets through her diary.

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan: A main character who is constantly feeling misunderstood by her peers (she’s Persian not Latina!) and dealing with feelings for the new girl in school.

Young Widows Club by Alexandra Coutts: A great look at an unconventional love story, its ending, and what happens after… before the main character has even graduated high school.

Hundred Oaks series by Miranda Kenneally: Looking for strong, nuanced female main characters? This series is sure to satisfy as the characters deal with money, the future, death, religion, friendships, and love of all kinds in a small town. A plus: every book feels like a family reunion (and they can be read out of order).

Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Dollar: A main character reunited with the father and family her mother turned her against complete with a cast of a fabulous Greek family, a backdrop near the sea, and sexy love connection. All while dealing with a past that doesn’t want to be buried. (Runner up: The Devil You Know).

contemporary fiction

The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank: A black sheep’s “quest for her identity” through 25 years of her life.

Night Blindness by Susan Strecker: Jensen is forced to go home again when her dad is diagnosed with a brain tumor. She’s also reunited with her ex, her own horrible secret, and the realization that she might not be quite so happy with many factors in her life.

The Mourning Hours by Paula Treick DeBoard: Contemporary fiction with a flashback pinpointing when Kirsten’s brother s accused of murder and her family’s future is forever changed.

Steal the North by Heather Bergstrom: The Pacific Northwest is the backdrop in this novel about family secrets, religion, and young love.

The One That Got Away by Bethany Chase: For those who love binge watching HGTV, Austin, Texas, and second chance love stories.

Summer Sisters by Judy Blume: A journey through the years of two unlikely childhood best friends.

non-fiction

Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett (a memoir): A tale of friendship between two college friends and their journeys into writing.

What Remains by Carole Radziwill (a memoir): Before she was a housewife of NYC, Carole fell in love and married a prince, and was best friends with JFK Jr’s wife. This book tells the story of her husband’s cancer and losing her best friends in a plane crash. (Tissues in hand, people!)

on my reading list

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry: This book was gifted to me last Christmas by Hannah of So Obsessed With Blog who called the book “tale of murder and mayhem is ultimately an ode to friendship and fun”.

Something Real by Heather Demetrios: A child who grew up on TV on a reality show trying to live a normal life until a TV reunion of the show is announced.

All the Rage by Courtney Summers: (YA; St. Martin’s Press; 2015): A girl from “the wrong side” of town” and the sheriff’s son/golden boy in a book about truth and sexual violence.

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu: (YA, Roaring Brook Press, 2014): Another highly recommended novel about four high school students about slut-shaming, bullying, and death.

The Space Between Us by Jessica Martinez (YA, Simon Pulse, 2012): Two sisters, and secrets.

Why Can’t I Be You by Allie Larkin (Fiction, Plume, 2013 ): “A portrait of friendship and identity”.

The Disenchantments by Nina LeCour (YA, Dutton,2012): A road trip, a band, and some unrequited love.

Negroland by Margo Jefferson (Memoir, Pantheon, 2015): Full disclosure that Margo Jefferson is one of my favorite college professors but I’m so looking forward to diving into her latest book about growing up in Chicago amongst “the colored elite” — as she calls it.

Wendy and the Lost Boys: The Uncommon Life of Wendy Wasserstein by Julie Salamon (Biography, Penguin Press, 2011): A look at the gone too soon playwright of The Heidi Chronicles.

Big Magic: Creative Life Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert (Non-fiction, Riverhead Books, 2015): I’ve been enjoying the Big Magic podcast, and I’m looking forward to the book that started it all to give me a little push in a creative direction.

Whew! I’m ready to get started. I’d love to hear your books by awesome ladies recs (especially non-fic since I’m lacking in that department)!

Psst. Turns out all the books that most impacted me in 2015 were by females so you may want to stop by and read that too!

Tell us what you think! We love blog comments and hearing from you!

Ladies in Read on Rather Be Reading

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You know when you have a trilogy and the second movie (unfortunately) feels like it exists just to get to the final installment? That’s a little bit of what this year has felt like. Some progress, a few steps back, major happy moments, and some really disappointing ones.  I think 2015 may have existed just to push me toward the next year, so with that understanding, fingers crossed for 2016 to be a bit more… steady and wonderful.

As always, books have continued to be my anchor when I needed to escape the real world and my gosh, there were so many fantastic ones this year. There were definitely some standouts — and not in a top 10 of the year kind of way — but more of a “oh my god this book is saving me and I didn’t even know I needed to be saved kind of way”. So that’s what this post is about — how powerful and emotional and impactful some titles have been for me this year. I hope it gets you thinking the books in your life that made you feel similarly this year.

Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center seems like the logical place to start. The main character needs to escape the blah realities of her current situation and embarks on something totally out of her comfort zone — which means she sucks at it for awhile but learns about her so much along the way. Halfway through the year, I started a new workout and nutrition regime, and surprisingly, fell in love with yoga. It’s not the same as hiking in the great outdoors for a number of days on end, but it definitely felt like it. Feeling strong, seeing my body change, and realizing I had discovered a habit that actually calmed me? Priceless.

In keeping with the highs of the year, both Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer and Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid made me think of the steady females in my life (the golden old ones, and the surprising new ones) who lend me support and make me better. (I shine if you shine!) They also reminded me how the tiniest decisions can have the greatest impact on the directions of our lives and there’s no life roadmap we have to follow step by step; it takes time to find our ways, it takes mistakes to get us where we are going and we are that much better for our blunders.

Speaking of blunders, I spent way too much time this year asking myself what I did wrong for certain situations to turn out like they did. Even when I tried to forget or let it go, they popped up again and again, and while these events have contributed to the hurt and insecurity that has plagued me more than I care to admit, I do wonder if these moments have led me to realize that 1] friendships work when a person can switch off between being the supporter and the supportee (Tonight the Streets are Ours by Leila Sales is the first YA novel where I related more to the mom than the young main character) 2] forgiveness is the key to a long, nuanced friendship (Molly and Imogene in 99 Days by Katie Cotugno are on point, as are Willowdean and Ellen in Dumplin’)  3] there’s truth to the saying that some are only meant to be in your life for a sliver of time (First There Was Forever by Juliana Romano), and this truth is something you have to train yourself to believe time and time again, and 4] brand new friendships can be scary but so worth it (Feeling Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty).

In a steady string of books about sisters this year, and in the same year, that my mom lost her sister, these tales (This Raging Light by Estelle Laure; Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt; Rules for Stealing Stars by Corey Ann Haydu) comforted me because they nailed the bond between two people who are brought up to love one another but also be separate people with their own story. Family is this funny thing; we all know that. Things can go from great to prickly in a matter of minutes; suddenly you are walking on eggshells when all you want to do is laugh and just relax together up against a confusing and unpredictable outside world. You know each other so well; it’s so easy to hurt each other too. Your relationship is this constant battle of finding balance in pleasing the other without doing exactly what the other wants you to do. Does that make sense? I’m still figuring it out myself…

And lastly to three books that reminded me of how emotional reading can be… I finished Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith while waiting out a delayed flight back home from visiting my dear friend, Magan. This book made me weep because I recognized the control the main character wanted in regarded to her future. Would she be friends with the same people once she left for college? Would she love the same boy? I may be far away from that time in my life, but the series of greetings and so longs comes just as steadily, and often, unplanned these days. The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin hits on final moments too — the kind you never want to revisit but are forced to — even if you work so hard to prolong the inevitable. But there is hope. And Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead — a book that felt as familiar as cocoa on a warm winter’s night and a movie night with your best gal pals — reminds us that the sad times and the uncomfy-ness of change can also uncover new bonds, new moments to laugh about, and new sides of ourselves yet to unveiled. Siblings have your back, your friendships evolve but remain constant, and we are all on this Earth to do something special, be special to somebody.

A heartfelt thanks to the above authors who challenged my emotions, made me feel like I had someone in my corner, and improved my ability to be not only a compassionate reader but a more compassionate person.

Tell us what you think! We love blog comments and hearing from you!

What This Book Gave To Me on Rather Be Reading

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I’ve read four out of the five of the Blue Heron series by Kristan Higgins, and over the course of two years, I’ve always been curious about Connor O’Rourke. He was wise-talking, totally mysterious, and always teasing his twin sister, Colleen. She was even stumped by him. So I’ve been really excited to get Connor’s story, and Higgins did not disappoint with Anything For You (out today!). The highlight of this book was the timeline. We start with the present, a denied proposal, and then journey back to the very, very beginning of the “friendship” between Connor and Jess.

Readers can always depend on Higgins to create multi-layered character backstories and her development of Jess was on point. Right away, Jess reminded me of Laura Linney’s character in Love Actually; she has a disabled younger brother and is mainly responsible for him. Unlike Laura Linney’s, Jess’ parents are alcoholics and her childhood is filled with working more than one job, sacrificing her own school events and college to look out for her brother, and keeping them both safe from their parents and their unpredictable whims. The bright light in her life is always her brother, Davey, and then in an unexpected reunion: Connor.

Kind of. Jess understandably has trust issues. Davey is her number 1 priority, and even though she knows Connor is different than any of the other guys she has spent time with — that’s my one qualm about this book: readers are constantly and unnecessarily reminded of Jess and her promiscuity — the two can’t seem to make a full-fledged relationship work.

In romance novels, we know half the fun is getting to the happily ever after and I really enjoyed getting to know these two characters through their own personal challenges and the series of events that kept bringing them back to one another. Plus there was something so sweet about learning how a series landmark — O’Rourke’s — was born. Finding out these little details definitely made the Blue Heron series come full circle. Anything for You was the perfect respite after a busy few days, full of loyal supporting characters, forgiveness, acceptance, and a couple who deserved the chance to make each other happy.

Anything for You (Blue Heron #5) by Kristan Higgins
will be published on December 29, 2015 by Harlequin HQN Books.
384 Pages | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Tell us what you think! We love blog comments and hearing from you!

Happy Release Day, Kristan Higgins! on Rather Be Reading

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Rediscovering old books is by far one of my favorite things EVER, and I’ve been so glad to do so this year with #SoRatherBeYoung. At the same time, I’ve loved learning more about my friend, Hannah, and what books made her a reader when she was an adorable kid. This round of picks have been interesting. I loved all of Louis Sachar’s books when I was a bookworm in elementary school and I was praying, praying that this title would stand the test of time. On the other hand, Hannah’s pick for me was something I had never, ever heard of so it was nice to read a new, old book. (Hey, does this count as a classic?)

Without further day, here we go…

Joint pickWayside Schools Gets a Little Stranger by Louis Sachar | first published in 1995

More Than You Know: The author had a degree in Economics and started the Wayside School series after graduation. How interesting is that?!

Memories Are Made of This: I haven’t picked up this series since elementary school but it’s funny how muscle memory works. I started to remember little projects we did with each silly chapter of this book. This title continues to be fun, and I can only hope kids are still reading it in school.

Second Time Around: I’m basically going to repeat myself here. This book can be downright ridiculous but I can also see how the book teaches about language, misunderstanding, and how it’s so important not to take yourself seriously all the time. A fun ride.

You Can Take My Word for It, Baby: Like I said above, I hope kids, parents, teachers, and cool babysitters are still reading this book. It’s just a blast. (Plus there is a Santa chapter, and I just realized this is the grown-up version of Miss Nelson is Missing — am I right?)

Hannah’s pick for me: The Borrowers by Mary Norton | First published in 1952

Do You Know Why? “I wish I had an exciting reason for choosing The Borrowers for Estelle, but I don’t! When I asked her what she was in the mood for, she mentioned wanting something fun. A lot of what I read as a kid was on the more serious side (maybe because it was a ton of historical fiction), so this book was one of the first that came to mind! I remember almost nothing about the plot, but I know I was obsessed with the idea of tiny people secretly living in my home.” — Hannah

Can’t You Just See Yourself: I love that this was one of those picks that I had never, ever heard of. I know Hannah still hasn’t read this one in awhile, so I’m curious for her to revisit it soon too. When she first told me about it, I thought the borrowers were mice, not humans!

I Give You My Word: This is a story that would benefit from beautiful illustrations. If you are able to find that version, I could see myself reading it with younger kids. I do think I’d prefer to read Stuart Little or something similar first though.

Before the Music Ends: I wonder if I had some nostalgic pull toward this one I’d feel differently. The ending felt a little confusing (which made me feel so silly) and again, I don’t think the version I borrowed from the library gave me the best experience. It’s a cute story, but wasn’t a total winner for me.

Thanks for checking out #SoRatherBeYoung today! I hope when you are hanging around
during the holidays and awaiting a new year, you’ll be inspired to pick up your old standbys
from “the good old days”.

Happy almost Christmas! (And almost 2016 — if you can believe it!)

And be sure to stop by Hannah’s to hear her talk about my reading assignment for her. (ONE OF MY FAVORITES).

Tell us what you think! We love blog comments and hearing from you!

The Mini and the Silly | #SoRatherBeYoung on Rather Be Reading

Check out more book reviews and posts by Estelle.

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